Two explosions occurred, and a third explosive device failed to detonate in Hyderabad, India, just after 7 p.m. on Feb. 21, killing an estimated 15 people and injuring as many as 50. The explosions took place in the general Dilsukh Nagar area — the first in close proximity to a bus stand and a crowded fruit market and the second near the popular Konark Theater. The third explosive that failed to detonate was found near the Venkatadri Theater. Dilsukh Nagar is adjacent to a highway that commuters use to access the HITEC City business corridor, where several large Western companies have research and development centers, IT call centers and offshore development units.The explosions were likely the work of Indian Mujahideen, a militant group that has conducted similar attacks in the past. In other assaults orchestrated by Indian Mujahideen, the group transported explosives on bicycles or motorbikes, or disguised them in everyday items such as bags or metal canisters used to carry lunches, and then detonated them using timing devices. Similar tactics were likely used in the Feb. 21 attack.
The explosions occurred at soft targets in a heavily populated area and injured civilians — aspects also common with past Indian Mujahideen attacks. In May 2007, Islamist militants targeted Hyderabad's Mecca Mosque with an explosion that killed at least five people and injured 27. Twin explosions in August 2007 targeted a crowd watching a laser show at an outdoor amphitheater in the city, killing at least 42 and injuring 80.
Since Feb. 18, there have been mass demonstrations and strikes in Hyderabad, giving Islamist militants prime targets. Trade unions called strikes to protest inflation and labor laws and to demand job assurance. Additionally, Kashmiri groups planned to demonstrate alongside the trade unions against the execution of Afzal Guru, who was put to death Feb. 9 for his role in a 2001 attack on the Parliament of India. In November 2012, Mohammad Ajmal Amir Kasab, the last surviving Mumbai attacker, was executed inside a prison in Pune. There is a small chance that these attacks could be connected to or motivated by either of the two executions, and such motivations could be mentioned when culprits claim the attack, but this is unlikely.
Hyderabad has been targeted by militants in the recent past, including Indian Mujahideen, using small, relatively cheap explosive devices placed in heavily congested areas. As an indigenous group, Indian Mujahideen's operational capabilities are limited to small explosives and soft targets — hence the two explosions resulting in about 15 deaths. Such limitations, as well as Indian Mujahideen's tendency toward low-cost, low-risk operations, means that the corporate facilities in Hyderabad that have good security measures will likely remain outside of the group's target set. The Feb. 21 attacks indicate that Indian Mujahideen has not advanced tactically and will continue to attack soft targets with numerous small devices, unless it receives outside assistance.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this analysis misattributed who was responsible for a 2002 attack.